Launching a business is not just hard. It’s really hard. There is a lot that needs to go into it, and things that will happen along the way that you didn’t plan for. This has been especially true during COVID as supply chains have been disrupted, small businesses closed and team members working virtually.
But regardless of when you decide to launch your business, here are 5 basic steps you should take to ensure you are set up for success:
- Make sure you have a viable (and scalable) idea. I’ve seen too many founders fall in love with a product or idea that is super niche and really difficult to scale. You can gauge interest in your idea by running it by as many advisors, peers and mentors as you can. You can also conduct a survey to get additional perspective, start to understand your audience and what they want and need and how to position yourself.
- Speaking of positioning, you will need to have one that’s clear and differentiated. There are so many other brands competing for attention, that if people don’t understand what you are and do (and what the benefit is for them), you have lost them. Make sure that if you are in a crowded category, you are not “me too” — that you can speak to your proprietary process, ingredient, tools, technology, benefits etc. that sets you apart.
- Understand your operational needs and costs. There are sometimes “hidden” costs that you may not be factoring into your business, so it’s best to try to determine what those might be before you get any surprises. Legal fees for example, always end up being more than you planned. Do you need insurance? Do you need to pay franchise tax in your state? Do you have costs associated with your e-commerce set up? Your SEO? Digital acquisition? And don’t forget about trademarking costs. These are all important to the foundational health of the business.
- Build a network. It’s incredibly helpful as you are thinking about launching your business to have a network of peers, advisors, mentors, friends to bounce things off of. These can be people who are in your industry, have experiences or capabilities that are relevant for you or just opinions and perspective you trust. There’s no need to wait until your business is “live” to start building these connections. Do it now.
- Content strategy is crucial. Whether you are a service business, B2B, DTC or B&M, there is a reality around how much content you will need to tell your story, stay relevant, attract new customers and establish yourself as a credible expert in your field. Start thinking about how you can build up a content library before you launch. You can create longer form content (videos, blogs, articles) that can be cut down into smaller soundbites to get maximum mileage about everything you’re doing. Codify your brand guidelines to ensure that all your content is coming from your voice and feels like it’s connected. It will help build your story that way vs. being disjointed “noise”.
Of course, there are many other things you need to be thinking about to launch a business: funding, cash flow, building your team, capabilities, etc. but these 5 steps will hopefully help you get a jump on how you can maintain some control and sanity as you get closer to your launch. Good luck!